Palmer Square was at its most festive Friday for the holiday tree lighting, an event made noteworthy by the presence of a singing Santa, who belted out songs of the season with The Alice Project. (Photo by Emily Reeves)
Palmer Square was at its most festive Friday for the holiday tree lighting, an event made noteworthy by the presence of a singing Santa, who belted out songs of the season with The Alice Project. (Photo by Emily Reeves)
It’s mating season for white-tailed deer, and Princeton Township’s deer management program is underway for the twelfth consecutive year. Mark Johnson, the Township’s Animal Control Officer, said that United Bowhunters of New Jersey are culling the deer population in six of the 12 Township parks. Once they complete their hunting, White Buffalo Sharpshooters come in to “net and bolt,” or net the deer and pick them up.
All of the carcasses are donated to Norwescap, the community action partnership that fights poverty and hunger, Mr. Johnson added. The hunting began around November 5, while no date has been set so far for the next part of the process.
The deer population has been steadily increasing, creating problems and dangerous situations on local roadways. “This is the busiest roadkill time of year, and the roadkill number has been steadily rising,” Mr. Johnson said. “For the past three or four years, we’ve had between 60 to 80 a year. But this year, we’re already at 90, which means it will probably go over 100. We’d like to keep it in the double digits.”
While there used to be certain “hot spots” where deer could be counted on to appear, the situation has changed. “I really can’t say that anymore,” Mr. Johnson said. “They’re scattered all over.”
Since the destruction of Superstorm Sandy, anyone attempting to walk the paths of Princeton’s preserved woods and natural areas hasn’t gotten very far before encountering a fallen tree trunk. The record-breaking storm left its mark on Witherspoon Woods, the adjacent Mountain Lakes Preserve, and Community Park North, making paths normally strolled by nature-lovers and dog-walkers impassable.
But almost daily since the storm passed, volunteers have been working in the woods with chain saws and brush-clearing equipment to help bring the area back to normal. The Friends of Princeton Open Space Trailblazers, joined by other helpers, are opening up or rerouting paths affected by the fallen trees.
“It’s a pretty remarkable group of people,” said Fred Spar, a board member of Friends of Princeton Open Space. “They have been out there, keeping the trails clear, for a number of years on a regular basis. But since the storm, several people have been there almost daily and a fairly large crew comes out on weekends, six or eight people at a time. Some are from Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, and others who just heard about it show up to help. It’s been a huge help.”
Those who don’t frequent the woods may not realize the extent of the damage. “It’s pretty bad,” Mr. Spar said. “There are areas where it was just like dominoes — one tree fell, and the next one, and then the next one followed, and so on. Just beyond Mountain Lakes House, there’s an area where there were mostly conifers, and it’s just devastated. It’s all gone. There are many places where you start out following a trail, and then you have to stop.”
The cleanup continues, and more volunteers are needed. “The storm caused the loss of access to some beautiful natural areas that a lot of people in the community have come to enjoy,” Mr. Spar said. “It’s sad to see all these great trees fallen and paths obstructed. We still need help, and we welcome anyone who wants to volunteer.”
To join the effort, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The focus was on buildings and grounds at last week’s Board of Education meeting.
Superintendent Judy Wilson and other members of the Board reiterated their thanks to the community for passing a September referendum that will support $10.9 million in infrastructure repairs and upgrades to district schools. At the same meeting, which had originally been scheduled for October 30, Ms. Wilson reported that school buildings and playing fields came out of Hurricane Sandy relatively unscathed. The meeting concluded with the presentation by Kip Cherry of a proposed resolution focusing on the disposition of the old section of Valley Road School building.
In her comments about the recent storm, Ms. Wilson described Borough Administrator Robert Bruschi as “tireless, steady, and accurate” in fulfilling his role as “key communicator” between the schools and the public.
The Princeton Public Library was also acknowledged for providing a haven in the days during and after the storm. “Hundreds of our children were sitting on the library floor reading and chatting,” Ms. Wilson reported. “What a sight it was.”
Custodians and maintenance staff, under the leadership of Director of Plant/Operations Gary Weisman, were recognized for putting in as many as 50 hours at a stretch at school buildings over the course of ten to twelve days. “They made a huge difference in our ability to open again,” Ms. Wilson noted.
The only damage sustained by any of the schools was to the roof of the gym at Princeton High School, where repairs are already underway.
Repairing the Valley Road School Building was the subject of Ms. Cherry’s presentation. “I’m not expecting you to vote on it tonight,” she said as she distributed copies of the proposal prepared by by Valley Road Community Center, Inc. “Consider it a draft for your future support.”
Ms. Cherry noted that portions of the building are “in dire need of repair” and “will become an eyesore or safety hazard if not addressed.” The proposal to create a “Valley Road Community Center” is not a new one, but Ms. Cherry reiterated some of its specifics, including the creation of affordable spaces for non-profit theater and arts organizations which will work together in a synergistic environment. Ms. Cherry was careful to note that the purposes of the Center would be consistent with the Princeton Public School’s mission, and that environmental issues would be met in creating it.
The suggestion, this time, that the Board “partner” with the Valley Road Community Center, Inc., may have been a new one. “You haven’t been with us,” Ms. Cherry commented, noting that a partnership would enhance fund-raising opportunities and garner support for the project from the Planning Board and new municipal Council.
Thanking Ms. Cherry for a “thoughtful proposal,” Ms. Wilson reminded everyone about the Board’s “time frame” for considering what to do with the Valley Road building. Since they were committed “to go to work on this issue after the first of this year,” she said, she did not expect “any public discussion on this in next six weeks.”
Ms. Cherry expressed the hope that things would move a little faster, since water is currently leaking into the building. “The building can’t be reused if the water situation is not stabilized,” she noted.
Ms. Wilson responded by saying that Township officials are aware of the water situation.
In non-building related discussions, the Board approved a revised policy that addresses all tobacco use by students. Curriculum changes were made to “align with state requirements,” reported Student Achievement Committee Chair Andrea Spalla, and, at the teachers’ request, A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be taught to sixth graders this year.
“Our commitment is to make sure no one is hungry, and no one is homeless in Mercer County,” observed HomeFront Founder and Executive Director Connie Mercer. “The storm just made it harder.”
While many families had to to throw away the contents of a single freezer after days-long power outages, HomeFront lost the content of several industrial-sized freezers in their headquarters at 1880 Princeton Avenue in Lawrenceville.
And, although many people missed one or more days of work because of the storm, most paychecks will remain the same. At HomeFront, where many of the women are hourly employees, the loss of time means the loss of income. “These are the working poor,” said Ms. Mercer. “They live from paycheck to paycheck.” Ms. Mercer reported that she has a list of “a lot of big employers” like the State government, that are not paying hourly employees for time missed because of the storm.
HomeFront has experienced a 20 percent increase in homeless families needing help, and a 40 percent increase in requests for food as a result of the storm. In the meantime, the 20-year old organization’s programs to intervene and prevent homelessness; to offer children’s programing — including academic help; and its job readiness training, keep going. The organization’s commitment to literacy — the waiting room is stocked with books for clients to take home — is also going strong.
At the Mercer Street facility, HomeFront accepts donations of food, personal hygiene items, appliances, furniture, household goods, books, and more, to support its clients as they transition from need to self-sufficiency. On Monday afternoon, workers were unloading a truck full of Thanksgiving baskets donated by Bloomberg. At holiday time and throughout the year, HomeFront food packages focus on proteins, fresh produce, cereal, and other healthy foods. Donated goods are sorted by volunteers, a mainstay of the organization’s existence. More than one person, however, mentioned the facility’s overriding need for diapers.
Seasoned staff members like Brenda Whitaker, who runs Huchet House, HomeFront’s residence for homeless women pregnant with their first child, are always one step ahead of her clients. The contract that young women sign upon entering Huchet House is an exacting one that ensures they will keep doctor appointments, make good nutritional choices, and refrain from using drugs and alcohol during their pregnancies. Once their babies are born, baby sitters are in place so the young women can go back to work or to a new job obtained because of HomeFront preparation. “You must be self-sufficient before you get pregnant again,” Ms. Whitaker tells these young women in any number of “heart-to-heart” discussions.
One initiative that brought HomeFront up a little short is their “Kinship” program, which assists grandparents to assume responsibility for their grandchildren when the need arises. These returning caretakers lose senior housing apartments in the process, and require more medical care than participants in other HomeFront programs.
HomeFront’s Women’s Initiative will be hosting its third annual “Share, Shop, Give” event on Thursday, November 29, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Greenacres Country Club in Lawrenceville. The event “will be an opportunity for women to network, holiday shop, and enjoy an evening out,” said Initiative member Denise Taylor. “Approximately 15 to 20 vendors representing great ideas for holiday gifts will be set up and open for business.”
“Our goal is to support HomeFront and the wonderful work they do in our community,” said event organizer Faith DeJean. “We also want to encourage anyone who may not know about HomeFront to come and learn more. It is a great organization which has a proven track record of providing a comprehensive network of services for the poor and homeless in Mercer County.”
To learn more about “Share, Shop, Give,” contact Denise Taylor at email@example.com, or Ms. Dejean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about HomeFront, visit homefrontnj.org, or call (609) 989-9417.
At its Monday evening meeting, Township Committee unanimously supported a proposal to hire an outside environmental consultant to review documents associated with AvalonBay’s plans to develop the former site of the Medical Center at Princeton. In a split vote last week, Borough Council did not approve the plan (see related article).
Township Committee’s vote authorizes the payment of not more than $2,999 to Sovereign Consulting, a New Jersey-based environmental consulting and remediation firm. Although not finalized, it was agreed to proceed under the assumption that Sovereign’s fee would come out of AvalonBay’s escrow account. AvalonBay attorney Anne Studholme had suggested that the fee be borne by the municipality.
Township Committee member Bernie Miller, who is also a member of the Planning Board, noted that there was “considerable concern” about environmental issues at the site, and suggested that it was important to proceed. Township Engineer Bob Kiser thought that the review could be done “fairly quickly” and would be “consistent with the current schedule.”
Mr. Kiser spoke about the importance of removing or “properly decommissioning” abandoned tanks at the site, noting that there are at least four that “will probably need to be removed,” although current AvalonBay plans do not provide for their removal. The site straddles both the Township and Borough, and there are abandoned tanks in each; Mr. Kiser suggested that they are so “intertwined,” it would be difficult to separate a response to them.
“I feel pretty strongly that this is something that we should do,” added Deputy Mayor Liz Lempert, who chaired the meeting in Mayor Chad Goerner’s absence. “We want to make sure that we are doing our due diligence.”
In other business Monday evening the Township approved a proposal to expand First Aid and Rescue Squad headquarters at 237 Harrison Street. Expansion costs will be paid by the Squad, which already serves both the Township and the Borough.
Other agenda items included the reading of a proclamation declaring Saturday, November 24 as “Small Business Saturday.” Small businesses, the proclamation said, “create jobs, boost economy,” and “preserve neighborhoods.”
Chief Financial Officer Kathy Monzo explained a resolution extending the due date of real estate taxes to November 21 because of Hurricane Sandy. She said that the Borough would be passing a similar resolution with the same date.
A special convening of the Princeton Regional Planning Board on November 12 had members of Borough Council, in their meeting the following evening, questioning whether proper protocol was followed because of an item added to the agenda.
The Board voted November 12 to recommend that the Council hire a private environmental consultant to evaluate documentation of the former site of the University Medical Center at Princeton, where developer AvalonBay is contracted to build an apartment complex. But in a split decision, members of Council voted not to hire the Trenton firm, Sovereign Consulting.
They cited the fact that AvalonBay was not informed of the meeting, and questioned whether the consultation was necessary. “What other applicant have we required this of?” asked Councilman Kevin Wilkes. “None.”
Sovereign Consulting was recommended at a cost of $2,990, which would be paid for through AvalonBay’s Borough escrow account. A separate, lesser amount would be paid by the Township, where a smaller portion of the site is located.
“What obligations do we have to enforce remediation strategies on the applicant?” asked Wilkes. “A whole state protocol is in place for these issues. Why do we need to create our own review process when the state statute covers this?” Questioning the timing of the addition of the item to the Planning Board’s agenda, he suggested “shady behavior.” “I don’t support it,” he said. “I don’t think it was properly noticed.”
The Planning Board made their recommendation after suggestions by the Princeton Environmental Commission that a consultant be hired. In addition, the Princeton Regional Health Commission had referred the issue to the Planning Board.
Before voting on the recommendation last Tuesday, the Council allowed for public comment. “The environmental impact studies had very serious errors,” said Dodds Lane resident Jane Buttars, who is part of the group Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods. “They need to be looked at by an independent consultant.” She added, “There are public health issues at stake. No one here has had experience in decommissioning a hospital, and guidance would be helpful.”
In a memo sent to Borough Council after the meeting, Matt Wasserman, chair of the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC), requested that the Council reconsider its decision. He said that the PEC would make a financial contribution if the cost of hiring the consulting firm is at issue.
“We were very dismayed to learn that the Borough Council did not authorize an independent environmental consultant to review the voluminous amount of environmental documents associated with this application, and to consider whether additional sampling would be required, as requested by the Planning Board and the PEC. This review should include all documents submitted to the record of this application,” the memo reads. “The potential impact of this property is so important that to make a less than fully informed decision could risk the health and welfare of the future residents of this development and the surrounding community. We believe this review is vital to making a responsible decision on the application.”
Discussions of the AvalonBay proposal continued at the November 15 Planning Board meeting (see related story).
Mr. Wilkes was also critical, at the November 13 Council meeting, of a request to increase the budget for legal work by Hill Wallack, its regular law firm, and Stephen Barcan, a special attorney hired primarily to handle issues related to the issue of moving the Dinky terminus. “How did we exceed our legal budget with Hill Wallack by 40 percent this year?” Mr. Wilkes asked, referring to the request to raise the cap on the firm’s contract from $175,000 for 2012 to $245,000.
Council members were not clear as to whether the requests had to do with previous legal work, on issues related to the transition to consolidation, or were for work that has yet to be covered. Ultimately, the Council decided to put off acting on the two separate resolutions until the return of Borough Administrator Bob Bruschi, who was not present at the meeting.
Testimony on the rental community that developer AvalonBay is contracted to build at the former site of the University Medical Center continued on November 15 at a meeting of the Regional Planning Board. Postponements caused by Superstorm Sandy and a glitch in the recording equipment at the previous meeting, requiring some rehashing of testimony, slowed down the proceedings.
And time is of the essence. The Board has until December 15 to rule on the application, a deadline that AvalonBay senior vice president Ron Ladell has said will not be extended. Meetings on December 6, 10, and 13 will be devoted to further discussion of the proposed development, the Board decided at the packed gathering last week.
Many residents have expressed concerns about the environmental impact and design standards of the 280-unit development [see related stories on this page]. As described by Mr. Ladell and architect Jonathan Metz of the firm Perkins Eastman, the four-to-five story building is designed to have two courtyards, one of which is open to the public and the other which would be closed off for security reasons.
“We looked at the building as sitting in a garden,” said Mr. Metz. “One of our aims was to restore green space, to make the building interact with green space.”
Critics of the plan have said that it creates a gated community. At the previous meeting, Planner Marvin Reed said that original discussions about the site with the hospital administration provided for at least two parks to be part of the development. Mr. Ladell cited safety issues with the pool that is part of the design as a reason for making the second park private. “This is the only area the public isn’t allowed into,” he said.
Mr. Reed reiterated his point. “We had a lot of discussion about open space, where residents and neighbors would intermingle,” he said. After asking the architect to show the dimensions of the public courtyard — 96 by 110 feet — he said, “There seems to be a discrepancy between my imagination and the ordinance. I thought there would be more open space. Somehow what we thought was going to happen didn’t get codified.”
Asked by Planning Board vice-chair Gail Ullman how this development differs from others that AvalonBay has built across the country, Mr. Ladell said none have courtyards and this much open space. He added that the company has not previously had an opportunity to purchase a site with an existing parking garage, which this one has.
Mr. Metz described the apartment building as 48 feet at its highest point on one side, and 32.5 feet high on the other. “In every category of the bulk zone regulations, it exceeds or complies,” he said.
Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods (PCSN), which has its own attorney and environmental consultant, has many questions and concerns about the project and AvalonBay’s resistance to hiring an independent environmental consultant.
“AvalonBay has not followed its own consultant’s recommendation for a subsurface investigation of sewer discharges, including those from the old septic system, and PCSN strongly believes that this testing should be done,” said PCSN member Alexi Assmus in an email this week. “The only soil and groundwater testing that Avalon has performed is adjacent to the five underground tanks.”
Princeton University students enjoy the bonfire that lit up Cannon Green last Saturday evening to honor the Princeton football team’s wins over Harvard and Yale this fall. Thousands of students, alums, and community members were on hand to observe the Princeton tradition emblematic of a “Big Three” football title. It was the first bonfire since 2006. For details on the football team’s finale against Dartmouth, see page 30. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
Did you hear the one about the American Boychoir School? Among the local stories about Sandy and the nor’easter that have emerged in recent days, it’s one of the nicest.
Although scheduled to move to the Princeton Center for Arts and Education (formerly St. Joseph’s Seminary) on Mapleton Road where it will join the Princeton French Academy and Wilberforce School, American Boychoir School (ABS) has remained at its old location on Lambert Drive while updates are being made to its future home. Unfortunately, Lambert Drive was among those Princeton neighborhoods that lost power for an extended period as a result of Sandy; no small hardship for a school where boarders outnumber day students, and a holiday season’s worth of concerts is quickly approaching.
“There were 12 students here when the storm hit,” recalled Assistant Head of School K.P. Weseloh. The subsequent return of a group of choristers who had been out touring almost tripled that number.
Thanks to Princeton’s Trinity Church, which offered classrooms, and to the good will of nearby students’ parents, grandparents, and other friends of the ABS community, all 32 boys were almost seamlessly housed, fed, and schooled — and well-rehearsed. With beautiful spaces at Trinity and Princeton Theological Seminary in which to practice, you could say that the boys didn’t miss a beat.
“If you like chaos, it’s fun,” observed Ms. Weseloh, who was among those providing care and shelter for boys last week. “They’re having a ball meeting new people, living in new spaces, and having new experiences.” The electricity on Lambert Drive returned this weekend, but until then, the boys were welcome to remain in their temporary homes as long as needed.
“If you ask someone to help, they’re more than willing to do it,” Ms. Weseloh reported. For host families, there was the “fun of hearing about the lives of boys who have perfect pitch and travel around the world to perform.”
The boys follow an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule, so breakfast and dinner were with their host families, while lunch was at the Church. Princeton Windrows, a retirement community located near the school’s future home in Plainsboro, also stepped up to the plate by offering to house the boys. With all the other volunteers coming forward, though, it wasn’t necessary.
Last Thursday, then, was what had become a routine day for ABS students in their new quarters. After a day of academics, members of the choir trooped into the chapel to learn new songs under the tutelage of Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, ABS’s Litton-Liddal music director. Addressing them as “gentlemen,” Mr. Malvar-Ruiz encouraged the boys to sit forward, corrected their pronunciation of Latin words, beckoned them to sing out, and to repeat certain passages. Already beautiful sounds (the boys know how to sight read) became even more beautiful.
The American Boychoir’s upcoming schedule includes a performance of music from Wozzeck, accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra of London at Avery Fisher Hall, in Lincoln Center on Monday, November 19, at 8 p.m. On Thursday, November 29, at 6:30 p.m. they will perform The Christmas Rose with Jane Seymour and the Tim Janis ensemble in Carnegie Hall.
Closer to home, on December 7 at 7:30 p.m. the choir will appear in a concert of “Winter Wonders” at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton; in a program called “Voices of Angels” at the Princeton University Chapel on December 15 at 7:30 p.m.; and in the December 16 “Winter Wonderland Concert” at 4 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus.
In the coming year, area residents will be welcome to hear free, open choir rehearsals once a month on Friday afternoons; check www.americanboychoir.org for updates.
The only non-sectarian boys’ choir school in the nation, American Boychoir School was founded in Columbus, Ohio, in 1937, and has been located in Princeton since 1950. Regarded by many as the United States’s premier concert boys’ choir, it includes boys in grades four through eight, with students from across the country and around the world.
The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Performance Central series will present a talk by archeologist Joan Breton Connelly entitled “Recovering the Ephemeral: Archaeologies of Performance in the Ancient Mediterranean World,” on Tuesday, November 20, at 5 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Frist Campus Center’s Film and Performance Theater on the Princeton University campus.
A member of Princeton’s Class of 1976 and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship for her work on Athenian myth, cult, and image, topics explored in her forthcoming book, Parthenon Revisited, Ms. Connelly is a professor of classics and art history at New York University and director of NYU’s Yeronisos Islands Excavations program, which hosts projects dedicated to both archaeological research and ecological preservation. As a field archeologist she has excavated in Greece, Kuwait, and Cyprus.
Ms. Connelly’s 2007 book, Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece (Princeton University Press), was hailed as “eye-opening” and “engrossing” by The New York Times, which named the publication a “Notable Book of the Year.” The book was also honored with the Archaeological Institute of America’s James R. Wiseman Prize, and a Professional and Scholarly Press Award for Best Book in Classics and Ancient History.
This event is being presented by the Lewis Center’s Performance Central series which presents high profile lectures, readings and performances from artists and thinkers across various art forms. Having presented Grammy Award-winning vocalist Moya Brennan of the Irish band Clannad earlier this month, the series will bring the musical comedy improvisational work of the group Baby Wants Candy to the Berlind Theater at McCarter Theater Center in March.
To learn more about other upcoming events in the Performance Central series and the over 100 public events offered each year at the Lewis Center for the Arts visit princeton.edu/arts.
Determining that an ordinance to designate Princeton Borough’s Morven Tract neighborhood a historic district is in compliance with Princeton’s master plan, the Regional Planning Board Monday made passage of the controversial measure look increasingly likely. The ordinance now returns to Borough Council to be considered for a final public hearing and vote.
The proposal has been a source of contention among residents of the stately western section neighborhood for more than six years. Those in favor of the designation say it will protect the neighborhood’s architectural and historical significance. Those opposed contend it will place unnecessary restrictions on making certain alterations and repairs. A group of 51 properties, bounded by Bayard Lane, Hodge Road and Library Place, would be affected by the designation.
Some members of the Planning Board urged that acting on the proposal be delayed until after consolidation goes into effect, which is what the Historical Preservation Review Committee (HPRC) recommended earlier this year. The Borough and Township have different ordinances, and a new, merged entity will be created after January 1. “It’s only fair to property owners to know how restrictive it will be,” said Marvin Reed. “We don’t know what the details will be.”
Board member Gail Ullman said the Board should think about the measure as it benefits the whole town and the master plan, not just the neighborhood. “What we’re considering is a designation that will long outlast any of the residents,” she said. “How will such a designation play out over the years in the whole town? Will it keep that neighborhood beautiful? Will it inform future residents?”
Mr. Reed and Board member Julie Nachamkin were the only ones to vote against the ordinance’s consistency with the master plan. Ms. Nachamkin proposed advising Borough Council to delay acting on the measure until after January 1, but that suggestion was rejected by a 5-4 vote.
As has been the case at most every meeting on the subject, several residents of the neighborhood expressed their views on the designation. There will be more opportunity for public input when the matter comes before Borough Council, at a date that has yet to be announced.
The Board also recommended that the Borough survey neighborhood residents to determine the amount of support for the designation, since both sides of the issue continue to challenge each other’s figures on the question.
A week after Princeton Borough and Township residents elected Democrat Liz Lempert mayor of the newly consolidated town, Ms. Lempert and her opponent, Republican Dick Woodbridge, reflected on the race that earned Ms. Lempert 6,093 votes to Mr. Woodbridge’s 3,939. Drawing more than 10,000 voters to the polls in the wake of one of the worst storms in New Jersey’s history speaks of the importance of the race to the local population.
“It was a difficult week for pretty much everyone in town,” said Ms. Lempert. “And there were many people who had their polling places changed twice С first because of consolidation and redistricting, and then a second time because of [Superstorm] Sandy. We were worried that there would be mass confusion and frustration, but by and large things seemed to go relatively smoothly. People came out to vote even though there was a lot of storm clean-up to do. It just shows that Princeton is a community that cares and that takes its voting seriously.”
Mr. Woodbridge, a previous mayor of Princeton Township who served on Borough Council for three years, is no stranger to political campaigns. He is pleased with the way this one unfolded.
“I don’t have any regrets,” he said. “I think we ran the best campaign we could. This is the ninth time I’ve run in 36 years. I’ve won some and I’ve lost some. There are things we could have done better and things we did pretty well. What I really liked about this one was the broad-based, non-partisan nature. We showed you can run a non-partisan campaign. Clearly, there was a strong sense that this town should be non-partisan, if not in political composition at least in spirit. We saw that all across the board, and that was the biggest takeaway for me.”
Compared to some races in Princeton’s recent past, this one was “relatively clean,” Mr. Woodbridge added. “There was no real mud-slinging. We tried to stay to the arguments, and it never got personal. I have no negative personal feelings against any of the people I ran against. This is a small town and you’ve got to live with people.”
There were more supporters than Mr. Woodbridge could list in the campaign ads he ran in local newspapers. “We had a number of endorsements we couldn’t add,” he said. “It was a really nice cross-section of people representing the entire town who were supportive of my kind of campaign. What can you say? You do the best you can. And the hurricane didn’t do anybody any favors.”
Even before she takes the oath of office, Ms. Lempert is planning to meet with staff and Council members of the consolidated Princeton. “We checked with lawyers and found that it’s okay for the new Council members to start meeting before being sworn in,” she said on election night. “I would like to have a goal-setting session before the end of the year.”
Expanding on those plans this week, Ms. Lempert said she hopes this type of session will become an annual exercise. “I’ve talked about it with [Princeton administrator] Bob Bruschi, and we both think it would be a useful idea to have what is essentially a brainstorming session,” she said. “There is a lot of excitement about consolidation, and there are certainly a lot of opportunities. Eventually we have to get to every good idea, but we want to be strategic about what we try to tackle in the first year because we don’t want to pull the staff in so many different directions so that nothing gets done.”
The first order of business is likely to be ensuring that the promises of consolidation are met. “We have to do a good job tracking the savings of consolidation, and make sure that we’re looking for ways to enhance services wherever possible,” Ms. Lempert added. “One of the things that I think is going to be really important in the coming year is having excellent communications — making sure we are using all forms of media to get our message out in terms of any changes there might be. We want residents to know how to get what they need from the government in the most efficient way possible.”
Responses to the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy range from official initiatives at the Federal and State level,Кto more home-spun, locally-based collections of supplies for hard-hit families in shoreline communities around the tri-state area.
In recent days, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it had added Mercer and Hunterdon counties to its major disaster declaration that already included Monmouth, Middlesex, and Somerset counties, enabling residents and business owners in these communities to apply for Individual Assistance program assistance to help recover from Hurricane Sandy.
FEMA encourages those who have suffered loss to apply for aid over the phone at 1-800-621.3362 (FEMA), or online www.disasterassistance.gov or www.fema.gov.
Congressman Rush Holt (D-12) was instrumental in getting Mercer and Hunterdon on FEMA’s list. “Just after Sandy hit our region, I sent a letter to President Obama requesting such a declaration,” he reported. “When I toured affected areas with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on November 4, I re-emphasized the need for speedy action on the declaration. I’m pleased FEMA has responded.”
FEMA assistance for affected individuals, families, and businesses may include rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable; short-term lodging assistance for evacuees who are not able to return home for an extended or indeterminate period of time following the storm; grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary, and functional; and grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation, and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, state and charitable aid programs.
Filling out the paperwork for FEMA may be daunting for some, and Mr. Holt said that those requiring assistance should call him at (609) 750-9365.
With area blood supplies down more than 6,000 units from hurricane disruptions, New Jersey Blood Services (NJBS), a division of New York Blood Center (NYBC), is asking for post-hurricane emergency blood donations. “We anticipated some of the potential effects of Hurricane Sandy, and delivered blood in advance to our 200 partner hospitals,” said NYBC Vice President Rob Purvis. “Our first priority remains getting them whatever they need for the care of patients, including the surgeries that had to be delayed last week. Plus — with the holiday season right around the corner — we’re in a tough spot.” The need for blood is constant, whatever the weather or holiday, noted Mr. Purvis. The shelf life of platelets is only five days; the shelf life of red blood cells is 42 days. About one in seven people entering a hospital needs blood.
To find out how and where to donate blood, or for information on how to organize a blood drive, call (800) 933-2566 or visit www.nybloodcenter.org.
Locally, area chefs Max Hansen of Max Hansen Catering; Josh Thomsen from the soon to be opened restaurant, Agricola; Manuel Perez from The Peacock Inn; Mark Silverman from the Bedens Brook Club; Scott Anderson of elements; and The Bent Spoon’s Gabby Carbone, will be preparing food and providing services for a cocktail party fundraiser at the Bedens Brook Club in Skillman on Sunday, November 18, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. To attend, contact co-organizers Teresa Danko at TMDanko@aol.com, or Holly Schade, at email@example.com. The event is $250 per seat for “red level” participants, and $150 per seat for those at “white level.”
Also locally, the online resource Princetonscoop.com has embarked on a program to “RestoreOurShore.” Initial efforts focused on collecting supplies and food for the approximately 200 first responders on Long Beach Island who were without water, gas, or power. Drop-off sites and more target areas will be described at the site in the coming days.
Donations from Princeton residents enabled D’Angelo Market representatives to transport a truck full of donations to St. Francis de Sales Church in Rockaway, N.Y. last week. “Folks and volunteers at the Recovery Center were praising the quality of the donations with emotion,” they reported. Donated items included heavy coats, blankets, socks, underwear, scarves, and gloves. Baby supplies included wipes, diapers, bottles, formula, and baby food, sorted for distribution to areas of Rockaway, Far Rockaway, and Broad Channel. Princeton residents also remembered the elderly, donating adult diapers and vitamin fortified products like Ensure.
PSE&G advised that they expected almost all of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township Residents to have power restored by the end of Saturday, November 10. Area residents who are still without power should call PSE&G at (800) 436-7734.
Borough and Township officials sounded a cautious note by reporting that while “the majority of the town has received power, we are not backing down in our communication with PSE&G to get power to those that still are without. In fact, we share our residents’ frustration as we have tried to get specific areas in which PSE&G projects a longer duration for power restoration so that residents can be notified so that they can make alternative plans and we can also better direct our resources.”
Princetonians gathered in thankfully mild weather Monday at the All Wars Monument for the Spirit of Princeton’s Veterans Day observance. The non-partisan community committee bears a name that has special resonance given the community spirit inspired by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, which lends the trees in the background a special survivor’s presence of their own. (Photo by Emily Reeves)
As if we didn’t know it already, Princeton Public Library proved, once again, that it is truly this community’s “living room” by serving as a haven for many during Hurricane Sandy.
“We had more than 29,360 customers last week, including the day before the storm, October 28,” reported Communications Director Tim Quinn. “That averages to about 4,200 per day.”
The library conceded to the storm by closing on Monday, October 29, but reopened around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, October 30, remaining open until 9 p.m. Some 4,788 visitors came to the library in a nine-hour period that day.
Instead of waiting until the usual 9 a.m. opening on Thursday, November 1, the library provided a warming station by opening doors to the front of the library, lobby, and community room at 7 a.m. That day saw the largest attendance of the period, with 8,028 visitors in the 14 hours between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. On Friday, November 2, 6,539 people came to the library during roughly the same period.
Mr. Quinn reported that the three-day total number of visitors to the library during the peak of the power outage was 19,355. “By comparison, our average daily door count is 2,500,” he added. Circulation of library materials during this time doubled, and “all computers were in use pretty much every hour we were open,” said Mr. Quinn. “Our Wi-Fi was operating at the maximum capacity throughout,” and intense Wi-FI use prompted frequent announcements asking visitors to turn off the Wi-Fi on 3G and 4G devices, so others could get on the internet. Other announcements kept people up-to-date on school closings, and encouraged them to attend screenings of family-friendly movies like Penguins of Madagascar in the Community Room.
When available seats ran out, library visitors took to sitting side-by-side on the floor. In addition to the usual library activities, there were card games, and impromptu meetings. At least one couple came to see what the latest issue of Consumer Reports had to say about a badly-needed appliance.
Another bright spot for area residents during the storm was McCaffrey’s Market at the Princeton Shopping Center, where a generator kept food fresh and operations humming. People stood patiently in a long line for coffee, often bringing it to the upstairs seating area where they could drink it, eat Halloween-themed pastries, and recharge electrical appliances.
Internet service at McCaffrey’s was spotty, but the lights, warmth, good smells, and happiness at seeing familiar faces more than made up for it. It didn’t feel at all surprising, at one point, to hear the theme from Cheers emanating from McCaffrey’s large screen TV.
Another bright spot was Princeton United Methodist Church (PUMC), where Pastor Jana Purkis-Brash and Music Director Hyosang Park plugged in the coffee pot and posted a sign on the lawn reading, “Come in! Get warm! Charge up and use our Wi-Fi!” On Wednesday two dozen passersby sought brief refuge from the cold, plus nearly 100 people who spent the day, charging their phones and logging onto PUMC’s Wi-Fi. On Wednesdays, PUMC usually serves free meals to all, in partnership with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, and this last week was no exception. At 4 p.m. the Cornerstone Community Kitchen team converted the space into a dining room, where 73 people enjoyed salad, roast pork and mashed potatoes.
MIT Professor Emeritus of Linguistics Noam Chomsky, a speaker, writer, and advocate for peace and justice for over 50 years, will be the featured speaker at “New Paths to Peace,” the 33rd Annual Conference and Interfaith Service for Peace sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA) on Sunday, November 11, from 1:30 to 5 p.m. at Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street (across from Palmer Square).
Other confirmed speakers include University of Michigan History Professor Juan Cole, an expert on relations between the West and the Muslim World who has appeared numerous times on the PBS News Hour and other media; and Amy Goodman, the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,100 public television and radio stations worldwide.
Fr. Pat Connor, SVD, a priest with the Divine Word Missionaries and chaplain for over 25 years at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, is scheduled to preach at the Interfaith Service at 11 a.m. at Princeton University Chapel. Faith leaders from a wide range of major world religions will co-lead the liturgy. The service is free and open to the public; a free will offering to support CFPA’s ongoing work will be received.
Doors for the afternoon program will open for seating and on-site registration at 1 p.m. The event will conclude with a Patron Reception honoring Mr. Chomsky from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. in the Assembly Room at the rear of Nassau Presbyterian Church.
Registration fees for patrons (including preferred seating, listing in program and post-conference Reception) is $125 per CFPA member; $150 per non-member. Regular seats are available at $30 per member; $50 per non-member. Students are free, but must pre-register by sending their name, email, phone, and educational institution to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Registration is available by credit card through CFPA’s secure web site, www.peacecoalition.org; or by telephoning (609) 924-5022.
“We are thrilled to have such an outstanding group of presenters for our 33rd Annual Conference and Interfaith Service for Peace,” said CFPA executive director, the Rev. Robert Moore. “Just after the elections will be an important time to hear major leaders and thinkers for peace and justice discuss next steps toward peace”.
Democrat Liz Lempert will be the new mayor of consolidated Princeton. At press time the unofficial vote count was 6,093 for Ms. Lempert, and 3,939 for Republican opponent Richard Woodbridge.
“I’m thrilled,” Ms. Lempert said last night when the numbers came in. “It looks like there was a really strong turnout. We were worried that with the storm, there would be a lot of confusion. But it looks like things went more smoothly than expected.”
Township and Borough votes were counted together in this election. Consolidated Princeton now has 22 voting districts.
In the Presidential election, Princetonians overwhelmingly supported President Barack Obama with 7,903 votes. Republican challenger Mitt Romney received 2,474 votes.
The six Democrats running for Council seats were all elected: tentative vote counts were Bernie Miller with 7,114; Patrick Simon with 7,090; Heather Howard with 6914; Jo Butler with 6,903; Lance Liverman with 6,861; and Jenny Crumiller with 6,807. The Republican challenger, Geoff Aton, received 3,533 votes.
Democratic Congressman Rush Holt (D-12) won handily over his Republican challenger, Eric A. Beck, with 7,964 votes to Mr. Beck’s 2,071. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez defeated Republican candidate Joe Kyrillos with 7,474 votes to Mr. Kyrillos’s 2,554.
Princeton voters endorsed an open space tax of 1.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Because the Borough and the Township will cease to exist as separate entities on December 31, it was necessary for this year’s ballot to include a question authorizing the joint tax. The new tax will enable a united Princeton to continue stewardship of its recreation and passive open space and make key acquisitions contemplated by the joint Master Plan.
Some semblance of normalcy was restored by the beginning of this week as Princeton residents continued to assess and respond to the property damages and electrical outages caused by Hurricane Sandy.
By Monday, schools and local government offices had reopened, and Princeton Community TV was up and running after storm-related closures. Superintendent Judy Wilson advised children and staff returning to buildings that had been without heat for some days to bring sweaters and sweatshirts “in case schools are chilly or we lose power again.”
The New Jersey Education Association officially cancelled a convention originally scheduled for November 8 and 9 in Atlantic City; schools, which had previously been scheduled to close on those dates, will be open on November 8 and 9 for full days of classes. While acknowledging that this scheduling change may be a hardship for families who had planned a long weekend vacation, Ms. Wilson noted that “with five days lost already and winter still ahead of us, capturing two full November days is critical and far better instructionaly than late June.” A Board of Education Meeting, already rescheduled for Thursday, November 1, was rescheduled again for Tuesday, November 13.
“Our schools were spared much damage,” Ms. Wilson reported. “The buildings and grounds fared well and what needed to be addressed in terms of downed trees, generators, etc., was taken care of right away by our exceptionally dedicated custodial, grounds, and maintenance staff. They prepared well, covered the buildings throughout the storm, and have been on double duty since.”
Township administration has announced that the due date for taxes has been extended until November 20.
At the beginning of this week, Governor Chris Christie announced the availability of a “health hotline” that will answer hurricane-related questions about food/water safety, and cleaning and mold removal. A 2-1-1 human services hotline is open 24/7, he said, and public health officials are available to take calls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends at (866) 234-0964.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved funding for counties throughout the state. “Across New Jersey and all the impacted states, we are continuing to deploy people, assets, and resources in response to this storm,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano during a weekend visit to New Jersey to survey Sandy’s impact and to meet with state and local officials, first responders, and volunteers to discuss ongoing response and recovery efforts.
In the meantime, President Obama and the U.S. Department of Transportation released $10 million in emergency highway funding to help get New Jersey’s highways and roads back in working condition. The funding will be distributed to the New Jersey Department of Transportation to help restore traffic services, establish detours, and perform emergency roadway repairs on federal-aid roads and bridges that were damaged.
Locally, Princeton University had about 50 trees come down on campus as a result of the hurricane and Director of Communication Martin Mbugua noted that there were “dozens” of reports of “blocked roads, damaged vehicles, fences and other property.
“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, about 800 University employees worked in shifts to provide services for undergraduate and graduate students who remained on campus during fall recess, and to keep other critical campus functions running,” said Mr. Mbugua. No injuries were reported as “hundreds of employees worked through the night Monday to switch most of campus to power from the University’s cogeneration plant, clear roadways, check buildings, and provide general security.”
Even before officials had cancelled the New York City marathon, Princeton Borough and Township Police Departments and administrators decided to postpone the HiTOPS Half-Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, November 4. “The safety of the runners, volunteers, officers, and all others involved in making this event a success is the highest priority,” officials noted.
The Princeton Arts Council’s “Dining by Design” has been rescheduled for December 1. Executive Director Jeff Nathanson reported that a number of Arts Council programs and events will be rescheduled, and some will just have to be cancelled. Until Monday morning, the Arts Council building was without power, including phone and internet service. “We did everything we could to communicate with the public,” said Mr. Nathanson. “Staff used the Conference Room at the public library. The library’s support was fantastic, and we really appreciate it,” he added (See page 5 article). To check on Arts Council updates, visit www.artscouncilofprinceton.com.
Although electricity has been restored, the Princeton Senior Resource Center in the Suzanne Patterson building was still without heat at the beginning of the week, and classes were cancelled.
The Princeton Family YMCA got power back Sunday around 3 p.m. CEO Kate Bech reported that the building would be open “on a limited basis,” and that child care programs and after school programs are running. “The pool should reopen by Tuesday,” she said, and the cardio room is available to members. “We welcome anybody from the community to use our locker rooms if they are in need of a hot shower,” she added.
At Infini-T and Spice Souk on Hulfish Street, co-owner Mary Fritschie reported that one of her regular customers organized a drive and asked to use the location to drop things off. She described the response as “massive, just wonderful,” noting that a steady stream of non-perishables including diapers, foam mattresses, warm blankets, canned foods, and cleaning supplies have been dropped off in front of the cafe since 7 a.m. on Saturday.
D’Angelo Italian Market on Spring Street in Princeton is also collecting contractor trash bags, work gloves, batteries (all types), flashlights, winter jackets, kleenex, Clorox wipes, toilet paper, candles, matches, and baby supplies (diapers, baby wipes, etc,) to help residents of Breezy Point and Rockaway, two areas badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. On Monday, a member of the D’Angelo family transported a truck full of donations to St. Francis de Sales Church in Rockaway, New York. Additional information on shelters, the application process for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and social service is available at www.nj211.org/hurricane.cfm. Additional information about hurricane and flood recovery is also available at www.state.nj.us/health/er/natural.shtml.
The storm also caused The Historical Society of Princeton to reschedule its 2012 House Tour for this Saturday, November 10, instead of the originally scheduled date of November 3. The tour will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will include five properties.
Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath did not prevent fans of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra from attending a concert Sunday afternoon at Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus. On the contrary, there was a full house for the performance led by Music Director Rossen Milanov, who revised the program when some rehearsals had to be canceled and many musicians could not get to Princeton [see music review page 26]. Last-minute tickets at $25 were offered to brighten spirits, and they were quickly sold.
More than 1,800 people crowded into Nassau Presbyterian Church last Saturday to pay their respects at a memorial service for Princeton investment banker William Sword, Jr., who died tragically during Hurricane Sandy. Spilling out of the sanctuary, mourners moved into three additional rooms and the church’s hallways to hear the Reverend David Davis’s eulogy urging them to take inspiration from the way Mr. Sword lived his life.
“I have never seen an outpouring of love and grief and celebration of that magnitude,” Mr. Davis said on Monday. “Given the weather challenges, it’s just remarkable that so many people were there. But anybody who knew Bill knew that he lived every day with gratitude, and tended to his friendships and relationships in a way that allowed all of them to thrive.”
Mr. Sword, 61, died on Monday, October 29 after being struck by a falling tree outside his home during the storm (see accompanying obituary, page 41). According to Princeton Township Police, Mr. Sword was trapped beneath the tree, which fell on him as he cleared debris from his driveway.
Making the tragedy all the more uncanny is the fact that Mr. Sword survived a brutal knife attack in 2003. An emotionally disturbed student from the University of Maryland, Jelani Manigault, crashed his car near the Sword family’s house on the Great Road, and asked to enter the home. Mr. Sword let him in, and an apparently distraught Mr. Manigault ran into the kitchen, grabbed a 12-inch knife, and stabbed Mr. Sword numerous times.
“It is not a cliche in this case to say that in the aftermath of that situation, Bill made the decision to live life to the fullest,” said Mr. Davis. “And he did that for 10 years.”
Mr. Sword graduated from The Lawrenceville School in 1969 and Princeton University in 1976. Several of his family members have attended Lawrenceville, where Mr. Sword was an honor student and a lacrosse player, according to Alumni Relations Director John Gore. “We heard about it Tuesday from alumni who called to let us know,” he said. “Several of his classmates attended his memorial service. This is a lovely family, and we feel very badly for them. It’s very tragic.”
Among Mr. Sword’s Lawrenceville friends was Princeton resident Mark Larsen, who was a freshman when Mr. Sword was a senior. “He was my study hall monitor, and we ended up being roommates at Princeton because Bill took a couple years off to work in Washington,” Mr. Larsen said. “We became close friends. We were in each other’s weddings. Our families were close.”
Mr. Larsen was among those who attended a reception at the Bedens Brook Club following Mr. Sword’s funeral service. “We had a chance to speak about Bill, and what I said about him was that this man was a giver, not a taker,” Mr. Larsen recalled. “The most wonderful thing about Bill Sword is that he realized that in life, every day counted — especially after he was stabbed nearly to death. He lived every day fully. The way he engaged the community, his friends, and his family, was such a great example to everyone. He touched so many lives in a quiet, humble way.”
The loss of Mr. Sword is felt by the charitable organizations in which he volunteered his time, as well as his personal relationships. “Bill was an unusually caring and giving person,” said Republican mayoral candidate Dick Woodbridge, on Monday. “We have known the family for years, and our oldest daughter used to babysit for his children. What I especially liked about Bill was that he was ‘old school’ in that he gave quietly and generously to the community. He also possessed a keen sense of humor balanced with genuine intelligence and humility. The fact that the church was packed to overflowing in the aftermath of the worst New Jersey storm in recent history says all you need to know.”
A board member of Centurion Ministries, Mr. Sword worked frequently with Jim McCloskey, its founder and executive director. “Bill and I were good friends. We both belonged to Nassau Presbyterian Church, and I asked him to join the Centurion Board. He asked some very good questions, as he usually does, and I felt honored and privileged that he would serve us,” Mr. McCloskey said. “After the memorial service the other day, a number of people came up and told me how much of a real advocate he was for Centurion. I didn’t know he was doing that around town. We all lost a very, very good friend. It’s just incomprehensible and horrendous. Those of us who knew him well knew he was a special human being who cared for people, especially the disadvantaged and forgotten.”
Mr. Sword also served on the board of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. “We knew him to be the same lovely person that everyone else in this community thought of him as being,” said Nancy Kieling, PACF president. “He had a generous spirit. We have a long relationship with the Sword family, because Bill’s father was on our founding board. He’s been a friend of ours for a long time, so we are deeply saddened.”
Lee Gladden shared office space with Mr. Sword for the past decade. “We’ve done a lot of business projects together. We saw each other every day in the office, or in Dillon gym, or golfing at Bedens Brook, or on the Centurion Board,” he said. “I feel so privileged and grateful that I not only got to know Bill so well, but got to spend so much time with him. I learned a lot, and really enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a huge loss not to have Bill in our lives anymore. He was such a wonderful person, and an example of how to live a good life. We should all learn from that. He was an inspiration to us all.”
The area-wide power outages produced a whole new venue for voters like those shown here at the polling station in Jadwin Gym. (Photo by Emily Reeves)
A strong rental market at The Residences at Palmer Square, the cluster of townhomes and condominium apartments between Paul Robeson Place and Hulfish Street, is an indicator that contracts for the homes in the complex that are for sale will pick up soon, say those involved in their marketing. Signs of life at the community – pots of mums on balconies, lights glowing from within – are evidence that interest has picked up at the development, which offers homes starting at $1.2 million.
Of the 52 units built as rentals, 46 have been leased, according to David Newton, vice president of Palmer Square Management. Renters have been moving in since last December. But only four of the units for purchase have been sold. “We still have a number of units left,” Mr. Newton said. “At the moment, 25 are immediately available, 11 of which are condo apartments and 14 of which are townhomes.”
Now that rentals are nearly complete, the focus is on selling the rest of the complex. “I think the rental market has been very strong in the last year,” Mr. Newton said. “We’re hopeful that with interest low and the quality of the product we’ve created that sales are going to occur in the next 12 months.”
Kimberly Rizk, an agent for Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty, which is marketing the homes, said interest in the complex has picked up in recent months. “People are over there all the time,” she said. “Two buildings are renting like crazy. Sales are slow on the townhouses and condos, no question about it. But we’re hoping that will turn around. There is a nice new amenity, a concierge service. And renters are thinking that maybe they’ll buy. So I think we’ll have some conversions.”
An open house advertised recently at the development was for a home priced at $1.855 million, offering “a minimum of three luxurious finished levels of living space, full basements and private elevators.” Mr. Newton said there are no plans to lower prices.
“There are some small incentives being offered, but prices are not being lowered,” he said. “We’ve built, we feel, to a high standard, and we have sold to certain people at one set of prices so we’re not going to change to another. We know that one way or another, they’ll sell. In three to five years, I guarantee that this will be the most popular place to live in Princeton. It’s beautiful, it’s in town, and this is the type of product people want.”
Those renting at the complex cover a wide age range. “There are empty nesters, baby boomers, not any great pattern,” Mr. Newton said. Ms. Rizk added, “We’re marketing to everybody and anybody who understands the value and the convenience of living downtown. There is no real set model of people living there. We’ve got young families, empty nesters, young professionals, from twenties to nineties. It’s anybody and everybody who wants to live in an urban environment.”
Recent additions to the retail establishments in Palmer Square are geared toward home and design. The Farmhouse Store moved last week into the space formerly occupied by The Papery at 43 Hulfish Street. The Papery has relocated to 15 Hulfish Street, a few doors down. The Farmhouse Store carries barn wood furniture, small artisan gifts, pottery, glass, and other items. Indigo by Shannon Connor Interiors opened at 45 Palmer Square West, at the former location of Spruce Connor Interiors. Owner Shannon Connor has re-launched the store to include home furnishings including custom furniture, rugs, and gift items.
Brooks Brothers, in the space formerly occupied by Banana Republic; and Urban Outfitters, in the store that housed Talbot’s, which has moved a few doors down on Nassau Street, will open by the end of the year.
Proximity to the shops and restaurants of Palmer Square are a major part of the marketing of The Residences. “You can’t have a better location,” said Ms. Rizk. “Sales are going to turn around.”
Area congregations, schools, businesses, and clubs are invited to join in the Crisis Ministry’s annual pre-Thanksgiving “CAN-U-Copia” food and volunteer drive. The annual fall effort helps stock the shelves of the nonprofit organization’s three food pantries and raises awareness and funds to support its Hunger Prevention initiatives. Crisis Ministry supporters have already held fall food drives of the real and virtual variety: The West Windsor Farmers Market hosted a food drive October 20, that Yes We CAN! Food Drives coordinated and farmers and shoppers contributed to. Employees from an area company collected funds through a “virtual” food drive to support the Crisis Ministry’s Hunger Prevention program.
“The spirit of giving from many congregations, businesses, and community groups is really amazing,” said Carolyn Biondi, Executive Director of the Crisis Ministry. “We are grateful to serve as the connection of these resources to the individuals and family who need them.”
The 2012 CAN-U-Copia drive continues until Thanksgiving with efforts by a variety of organizations, including: First Baptist Church of Trenton, Key Club of Ewing High School, BlackRock, Princeton United Methodist Church, Nassau Presbyterian Church through its Red Truck Food Drive, Trinity Church Princeton, Christ Congregation of Princeton, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton (through its in-gathering and shelf-stocking project), Bristol-Myers Squibb, Trinity Church Rocky Hill, and Princeton Theological Seminarians who will assist with the Crisis Ministry’s scheduled distribution of hundreds of Thanksgiving turkeys with dinner fixings. Finally, on Thanksgiving morning, the Crisis Ministry will be one of three charitable organizations supported by the annual Trinity Church Princeton 5K Turkey Trot (www.trinityturkeytrot.org).
For more information or to participate in the 2012 CAN-U-COPIA drive contact Mark Smith (email@example.com) or Sarah Unger (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Crisis Ministry of Mercer County, Inc., is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1980 by Nassau Presbyterian Church and Trinity Church. It partners with the community to achieve stability for neighbors in need, serving some 1,300 households each month through effective hunger prevention, homelessness prevention, and work training programs. The Hunger Prevention program serves clients through pantries at Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street in Princeton; and at 117 E. Hanover St. and 400 Hamilton Ave. (the former Bethany Presbyterian Church) in Trenton. The program also offers weekly bilingual nutrition classes through a partnership with the Rutgers Extension Service and regular “Lunch and Learn” health screenings with partner Capital Health System and its Community Health Education Department. For more information on the Crisis Ministry, visit thecrisisministry.org, or facebook.com/TheCrisisMinistry, or call (609) 396-5327.